Saturday, 8 February 2014

Tekumel - Session 16

I'm a big fan of the various Tekumel scenarios contributed to The Book of Visitations of Glory, archived on the site. Readers of this blog may recall that I used Krista Donnely's “A Dark and Stormy Night” as the basis for an early session. In this session, I adapted Barry Blatt's “These Mean Streets” as a one-shot adventure. The scenario is a simple one- the PCs must evict a particularly unsavoury group of squatters from a property in the Foreigner's Quarter of Jakalla.

Adapting this to the current campaign was simple- I simply declared that the property in question was part of Gachaya's dowry from the Blue Kirtle Clan. Due to various legal and financial difficulties, the Blue Kirtle had been unsuccessful in removing the squatters, but surely the White Stone would be able to overcome such trifling difficulties...

Gachaya, being flush with money from a run of luck in the Hirilakte Arena, was looking for something to invest in. While T:EPT has rules for investing money, I personally have ruled that this can only be done if an opportunity can be found. I decided that the run-down and unprofitable tenements Gachaya had gained through marriage constituted such an investment opportunity, with the investment covering the needed repairs and various bribes needed before money can be made from renting them out. Naturally, the first order of business was to deal with the squatters he'd heard about.

Visiting Tsodlan, Gachaya arranged for a couple of “The Lads” to accompany the PCs into the Foreigner's Quarter (it was deemed wise that High Clan Tsolyani should have an armed escort in this area). Tsodlan was now making an increasing habit of treating the city guard under his command as a pool of soldiers he can exploit at will for whatever the PCs are up to. He gets away with it due to generous bribes and shares in whatever rewards the PCs find (especially valued given how many of the rank-and-file come from poor Clans), but eventually a large number of them will get killed, at which point questions will start to be asked.

Nonetheless, Gachaya and Tsodlan entered the Foreigner's Quarter and made their way to the area of Gachaya's property. Managing to find some locals who spoke Tsolyani, they eventually located the property- and learned something of the squatters. The Ugremish Clan (as they call themselves) were a group of Salarvyani immigrants who had a very unsavoury reputation amongst their neighbours. There were all kinds of dark rumours about them, from murder to dark magic- none of it proven, of course- but the locals tried their best to avoid the Ugremish and not antagonise them. Up until now, they had managed to avoid angering any Tsolyani Clan with enough clout to do something about them- but given their lack of rent payments, Gachaya was determined to change this.

When they arrived at the building, Gachaya was dismayed at just how bad a state it appeared to be in. A many-storied edifice, it was dilapidated and stinking, with the walls crumbling and various weeds and fungi growing in the cracks. The inhabitants seemed exactly what they'd been led to expect- ill-aspected foreigners with filthy beards and a very poor grasp on the Tsolyani language which seemed to get even worse once Gachaya explained who he was. Several assertions were made to the effect that they paid rent to the Golden Crab Clan, and then the Ugremish scuttled back inside and shut the doors.

Retreating to make plans, the PCs first made enquiries about this Golden Crab Clan. Records showed that such a Clan had indeed existed in Jakalla at one time, but there was currently no trace of them. Deciding to simply act as if the Golden Crab no longer mattered and pay Shamtla if it turned out otherwise, arrangements were made for the eviction of the Ugremish.

Tsodlan arranged for several dozen guards to join them on the next visit, assuming that they would need to evict the Ugremish by force. Kemuel was enlisted as well, since it was decided that his spells would be effective at breaking up any potential siege situation. Finally, contact was made with a representative of the Collar of Bronze Clan, with an eye to selling the evicted Ugremish into slavery. They were all Nakome after all, and the cost of using The Lads had to be paid off somehow.

The planned day of the eviction came, and the Tsodlan was leading the guards in full armour into the Foreigner's Quarter. Behind him came a litter bearing Kemuel and Gachaya, and bringing up the rear were two Chlen-carts with cages and a number of Collar of Bronze thugs. Naturally, such a procession was noted by the locals, and words spread rapidly through the Foreigner's Quarter, which became deserted for fear of just what these Tsolyani were planning. When the PCs reached the tenement, the Ugremish- who'd been expecting this since the previous visit- were all fortified inside.

Gachaya decided it was his place to oversee and command, which amounted to him sitting in the comfort of the litter and shouting orders and encouragement at people. Tsodlan led the initial assault on the doors, which had been barricaded, whilst the Ugremish threw various things from above. Fortunately Kemuel's magic worked as planned, the Terrorisation spells driving the Ugremish back from the windows and doors and allowing the guards to eventually force their way inside.

The descriptions of the flithy, smokey interior had Gachaya getting steadily more incensed as he learned just how the Ugremish had been treating his property (the adventure has the full details). He was eventually forced to abandon the litter, after a miscalculation had Kemuel Terrorising a group of Ugremish thugs who had nowhere to run except out of the window. They fell onto the litter from a great enough height to break it in the process of seriously injuring themselves, forcing Gachaya to roll in the mud as he leapt out of the litter and narrowly escaped injury himself.

Finally deciding to join Tsodlan and Kemuel inside, Gachaya found that they had just uncovered some form of crudely excavated tunnel down into the Underworld. Deciding that some Ugremish might have escaped this way, or that they might be hiding loot down there, the PCs led several guard down the dark, twisting tunnel- and emerged into a charnel pit filled with human remains in various states of decomposition. Some of which began to move...

The leader of the Ugremish, Grandpa Aqqa, was a Priest of Black Qarqa, a particularly loathsome Salarvyani variation of Sarku. Over the past few decades, he had been living- for want of a better word- in this dark temple, surrounded by death and undeath, as he slowly converted himself into a most repulsive form of Undead. The process was now mostly completed, and Aqqa was less than pleased at the interruption- and his Mrur minions were sent to express this displeasure.

The fight, taking place in a dark pit with Mrur all around, was many rounds of frantic chaos. Fortunately for the PCs, Tsodlan managed to rally the guard and have them stand fast to hold back the Mrur whilst Gachaya used a borrowed Longsword to systematically dismember them one by one. Kemuel was able to use his Magic Resistance to hold off the spells which Aqqa had thrown at them, and eventually the Mrur were slain and Aqqa dismembered and burned.

Emerging into the sunlight again, Gachaya sent word of the temple to the Palace of the Priesthood and led the PCs home, with the Ugremish being loaded into the Chlen-carts by the Collar of Bronze and the locals starting to cheer as they saw their most intensely disliked neighbours were gone for good.

When he arrived back at the Clanhouse, though, Tsodlan discovered a truly dire occurrence awaiting him. Some time ago, he'd banished his younger son Quren back to the rural Clanhouse the campaign started at. This act had clearly not been properly thought through- because by doing so, he made sure that his wives found out he'd gained a respectable long-term position in Jakalla. Tsodlan's whole family had now arrived at the Clanhouse to share in their patriarch's good fortune (including Quren, whose mother was going to be having words with Tsodlan about this banishment nonsense).